The 9-month closure of a section of Highway 169 has led to a "flood" of traffic on residential streets, as commuters look for shortcuts – and some residents of Hopkins are seriously unhappy about it.
So unhappy that they have launched a campaign to recall city Mayor Molly Cummings and the four city council members, to replace them with "representatives that listen to us and act."
"While the City of Hopkins has made efforts to reduce traffic in Hopkins residential neighborhoods, the results have been dismal," the group said in a press release.
The construction's impact
The official detours send people heading north via Hwys. 62 and 100 to get to I-394, which they can take to rejoin Hwy. 169. Southbound drivers are sent via I-394 and I-494.
But a significant number of these displaced motorists are now using neighborhood roads to avoid the official detour, increasing traffic in Hopkins along 11th Avenue, Smetana Road and residential streets including Old Settlers Trail.
The recall group says traffic "backs up for hours at rush hour" and endangers both adults and kids.
Meanwhile, across Hwy. 169 in Edina, the group points out that the city put up barriers to prevent drivers from cutting through the Parkwood Knolls neighborhood. The barriers were added after the highway's closure caused a five-fold increase in traffic to that area.
In Hopkins, attempts to prevent drivers from using shortcuts haven't been as successful, the group argues.
The Star Tribune reports Hopkins has deployed extra police during rush hour at those key spots, preventing them from speeding or rolling through stop signs, or turning on to a backed-up road. The city also put signs up reminding people that 11th Avenue is for local traffic only.
The City of Hopkins has responded to GoMN's request for comment, saying that it has reviewed options to shut down some roads permanently to reduce the problem, but says that because 11th Avenue is the major artery through the town, it makes it difficult in comparison to what Edina has done.
"Closing the road would impact thousands of residents, multiple businesses, require rerouting of school and metro transit buses that use the road and pose potential issues for emergency vehicles," it said.
"The Hopkins Police Department currently are monitoring 11th avenue during peak traffic times," it added. "If the road gets backed up, the road is shut down and traffic is directed to continue on Smetana to Shady Oak Road.
"The police presence helps ensure traffic keeps flowing and safety is maintained in the area. Additionally, MNDOT has provided additional signage for the areas to help deter traffic."
The city says it has not received any recall notice or petition from the campaign group.